CBP: SciTech & Supervising Professional Not Required to Work at Same Job Site

U.S. immigration officers frequently subject the Scientific Technician (“SciTech”) TN visa category to heightened scrutiny for the very same reasons applicants are attracted to it, viz. because (1) it’s open to many types of job positions (e.g. in engineering, biology, or chemistry, etc.); and (2) it does not require possession of a bachelor’s degree.

One particular area of concern for U.S. immigration officers is the regulatory requirement that SciTechs must work in direct support of professionals in the applicable field. 8 C.F.R. § 214.6 (c) and n.6. Subsequent guidance provided elaboration on this point, adding that the SciTech’s job offer “must demonstrate that the work of the ST/T will be inter-related with that of the supervisory professional. That is, the work of the ST/T must be managed, coordinated and reviewed by the professional supervisor, and must also provide input to the supervisory professional’s own work.” CBP Inspector’s Field Manual § 15.5 (f) (2); Williams Memo (Nov. 7, 2002).

Problems determining an individual’s eligibility for a SciTech TN visa have occurred where the Supervising Professional does not work at the same job location where the SciTech will perform his or her services. CBP inspectors in the past have denied TN visa applications or revoked prior TN approvals in this scenario.

In a recent meeting with immigration attorneys, CBP officials discussed a previously approved TN visa application where the Supervising Professional worked in one state, and the SciTech worked in another. While traveling, an inspector at a pre-flight inspection office had revoked the SciTech worker’s TN on the basis that the Supervising Professional and SciTech worker were required to work at the same job site.

CBP officials clarified that the SciTech worker and his/her Supervising Professional did not have to work at the same job location. The Supervising Professional “can manage the Sci Tech by phone, email or video.” The application, though, must still establish that the SciTech’s work will be inter-related to the Supervisor. CBP indicated that it will review these types of SciTech applications on a case-by-case basis. See Upstate AILA Chapter / CBP Meeting Minutes (April 7, 2010).